Spin #51 : George Harrison : Cloud Nine
SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #51
This week for our 51st Spin, we are spinning the final studio album (whilst alive) from George Harrison called 'Cloud Nine'. I remember finding this one for a reasonable price in my local record store (Frank's Wild Years - Thirroul), probably at the age of 20 or 21, with my mum. I inspected the LP and noticed that there wasn't anything that I could see wrong with it and I took a chance due to my love for The Beatles. I am so glad that I did because this album offers so much for us as listeners and leaves you wanting more. I think at the time my mum picked up some Paul McCartney solo albums and Melissa Etheridge. 'Cloud Nine' provides the exact feeling that we are trying to create here at R'nR and the only thing I can say is a let down is that it doesn't include the lyrics.
I've chosen to spin this one in our front room and at the moment, I am the only one home experiencing this one. I promised myself that I would learn to cook a few meals outside of my comfort zone and hopefully show how much my wife and children mean to me with delicious dinners. This album is such a nice one to spin whilst cooking too and I'm able to pick up the Marshall Woburn II speaker and take to the kitchen during this album (powered and also has bluetooth feature). Plus this turntable has the auto stop and return to cradle feature, so I didn't need to rush back with food hands to lift the stylus.
Image : George Harrison
Now I have heard that this album was regarded as an album of two hits and the rest filler tracks. Absolutely disagree with that statement and feel that if people believe that without giving this album a spin that they are doing themselves and George Harrison a disservice. There are some pretty well known musicians on this album which was co-produced with ELO's Jeff Lynne. Other musicians on the album are Eric Clapton, Elton John, Gary Wright, Ringo Starr, Jim Keltner, Ray Cooper, Jim Horn and Bobby Kok. The bluesy opener and title track, 'CLOUD 9' leads off this album with that rocking twang and catchy bassline. I was thinking of what my son was doing last night before bed as this song played. He was sitting on the lounge watching his favourite show (Paw Patrol) and I said, "Alright buddy, it's bed time. Say good night pups". He looked up at me all upset until I realised he had changed the show to Spanish. He got very upset when I turned the television off and I said, "You can't even speak Spanish to understand the pups mate". My son responded back with, "Yes I can". I had to hide a smile so I could get him to bed but I did laugh inside.
I think that moment shows just how precious it is to be a parent and you could say that I was on cloud nine like Harrison. Possibly a reference to finding enlightenment or happiness whether that be for a fleeting moment or a lifetime. At this stage in Harrison's career he had found peace in what he was doing and would shortly form the supergroup - The Traveling Wilburys, with Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne. Second track is the uplifting and motivational, 'THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES'. I like the lyrics of, "If that's what it takes (that's what it takes). Then I've got to be strong (that's what it takes). Don't want to be wrong, if that's what it takes". I also love that as soon as you hear the guitar work of George, you know it's him instantly. Definitely had a distinct style that he showcases nicely through this track. If you are having a rough day, then make sure you have this song handy, either in your collection or queued up on you morning drive in your car.
I was having a hard time deciding which of the next two songs were my favourite track from the album. The third song on the album is the drum driven 'FISH ON THE SAND' which sometimes that's what I feel like. There are quite a few changes in this song that showcase his talent for lyricism as Harrison sings, "No use to no one else, they've all dried up. Watching all our lives go by, I can't believe you'd want to see me crying". I think I just enjoy the tempo and fills from either Starr or Keltner (not sure who drummed on this track) and his voice. Then you have the complete opposite in the sad ballad 'JUST FOR TODAY'. They pair together well and make you think an awful lot. Remember when I was telling you to explore nature in the other spin? Well I think nature explored me too much by sending lovely wasps to come and sting me whilst fixing guttering and leaks on my roof. Was lucky that I was able to run over the peak of my house and jump down there. Once again Harrison's guitar work makes me realise that I've closed my eyes to soak it in. His voice sounds as if he is standing in the kitchen with me as I cook. Reminds me a bit of a Roy Orbison song in many ways and might have been something they discussed during their time together the following year.
My wife would like this album and probably the next song called 'THIS IS LOVE'. It is a more traditional pop song for Harrison that brings your spirits back up after the slower song before. I will have to dive into his back catalogue after spinning this one because the only other album I have of his is 1970's 'All Things Must Pass'. I didn't realise that he basically wanted to grieve and process the loss of the Beatles breaking up by putting everything he had written on a triple album and be done with it. He no longer wanted to be a rock star and always thought that it was a bit of a joke. I guess because it was happening to him he was feeling surreal and playing a role, like an actor in a movie. I'm glad that he continued making records and I feel that because you are here reading this blog, that you are too.
A song that pays homage to his Beatles days is the last song on Side A called, 'WHEN WE WAS FAB'. There is a completely '70s style Beatles use of instrumentation throughout this one that makes me think of what has passed. To think that Harrison finally recorded this on an album in 1987 means that he was still thinking of his former band members - Lennon, McCartney and Starr, 17 years later. I remember being amazed whilst watching the Concert for George. If you haven't seen that - check out a clip here with his son Dhani playing. Gosh he looks exactly like his dad. I like it when Paul McCartney says "With Dhani up onstage, it looks like George stayed young and we all got old".
**Time to stop cutting up some onions and carrots and flip LP over to Side B**
A rockier track starts of Side B with 'DEVIL'S RADIO' and is talking about gossip on the radio or television. Harrison would have heard so much throughout his career and I don't blame him for trying to find time away from it all. I didn't realise until looking more into this album that Harrison was attacked at his home in the '90s by a psychotic fan who believed he was on a mission to kill the devil (Harrison). It was lucky that his wife Olivia was able to subdue the attacker but not before Harrison suffered multiple stab wounds. It is believed that Harrison explained with all of his wit that "It wasn't a burglar and he certainly wasn't auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys". I liked that many years later his son said the following, "He was very, very badly attacked, and by the time he died, he didn't even have a single scar on him. He was like a yogi, he moved on from that, physically and mentally, and didn't let if affect him". For me, that is hugely powerful and inspirational to hear just how strong Harrison was after such trauma. The next song that starts playing sounds like it could have been on earlier Harrison or later Beatles albums called, 'SOMEPLACE ELSE'. It was a close favourite contender for me and one that makes me appreciate who I am with and being ever so grateful. I like the lyrics throughout this song, "You got into my life, I don't know how you found me, but you did. It stopped me heading someplace else". The production on this album from Harrison and Lynne is of the highest quality and can see why they ended up in a band together.
'WRECK OF THE HESPERUS' takes you straight to a blues bar and I had to look up just what the heck a Hesperus was. Apparently, it means the 'evening star as a person' or translated as the person who shines brightest. I think Harrison was having a bit of fun and being cheeky, because he knows that he wasn't the brightest in The Beatles, but held his own in terms of contribution. Obviously Lennon and McCartney wrote the majority of their songs but Harrison had his bright moments. Up next is the very oriental sounding 'BREATH AWAY FROM HEAVEN' which starts coming through the Marshall Woburn II speaker now. Harrison's vocals are so pleasant on this track and I like the lyrics of, "And I was in the candlelit bedroom, enchanting beauty shimmering magically. Like an iridescent cloud being blown by a westerly wind". It reminds me of our daughter playing the xylophone and laughing as she surprises herself. She has been growing up so quickly and I can see it in both of our children each week.
The last song on this album is a cover of Rudy Clark/James Ray's '60s song called 'GOT MY MIND SET ON YOU'. I've heard the original and like both for what they bring to the song, being ever so different. I like the big band feel of Harrisons version and it ended up becoming a #1 hit for him. What a way to end your solo career, last song on your last album, becoming a #1 hit. That is called going out with a bang. I like the use of the tenor sax from Jim Horn throughout and you can just picture everyone involved having a lot of fun. If you want to check out the original, click here.
The stylus hits the dead wax before stopping itself and returning back to the starting position in its cradle. The album from the one that always shone bright but was the 'Dark Horse' of the fab four has now come to an end. Sadly this would be the final album released in his lifetime until 2002's Brainwashed which was pieced together with the help of his son Dhani. Thanks for getting involved in our weekly MWSP and Friday night spins on our social pages. If you are finding yourself wanting a music fix or just some comfort, you're always welcome here to relax with my little family each Sunday. Also, I am powering through that Stephen King book and interested to see who out there among you have taken the challenge of reading 'The Stand'?
Until our next Spin, be Kind to all the Dark Horses out there and be Kind to your Wax!
JEFF LYNE & GEORGE HARRISON
SPEED PLAYED AT
33 1/3 RPM
GONE TROPPO (1982)
BRAINWASHED (2002) POSTHUMOUS RELEASE
ALL THINGS MUST PASS (1970)
JUST FOR TODAY OR FISH ON THE SAND
RYLO RATING OUT OF 5
WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE
1 x BLACK LP WITH DARK HORSE LABEL, POLY BAG, PAPER SLEEVE WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF MUSICIANS / ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
"Just for today, I could try to live through this day only. Not deal with all life's problems. Just for today. If just for one night, I could feel not sad and lonely. Not be my own life's problem. Just for one night"~ Just For Today - Side A
LP / SIDE
THAT'S WHAT IT TAKES
FISH ON THE SAND
JUST FOR TODAY
THIS IS LOVE
WHEN WE WAS FAB
LP / SIDE
WRECK OF THE HESPERUS
BREATH AWAY FROM HEAVEN
GOT MY MIND SET ON YOU
George Harrison smiling, knowing he has left a positive blueprint on this world